Social media runs the web, but maybe it’s running too much of our lives. This is not an original idea, in fact it borders on cliche.
(What is it about writers telling everybody on the internet how much they hate the internet? Does anybody ever just decide that they don’t like being online 24/7 and then just…not write about it? Are you really logged off if you don’t write an impassioned thinkpiece about it? I digress.)
The fact remains: facebook is a murky slimepit of human nastiness. Between general privacy fuckery and the hailstorm that happens when you hold on to relationships with scores of people that would have otherwise exited your life peacefully, facebook fails to provide any real value to the vast majority of users.
Don’t get me wrong: there are reasons to use facebook. It is convenient as hell, and there are companies and schools that make using it mandatory for some reason or another.
But for more people than you’d think, it’s a chore. It feels mandatory when you’re using it, like your social life just might crumble around you if you’re not on facebook, even if you hate using it. It’s a false sense of importance, but that feeling is still a barrier to quitting for good.
That’s what this piece is for; basically, if you want to quit facebook but are not sure exactly how to do so without your personal life going supernova, read on.
preparing to quit
This step is optional, but useful if you want to avoid getting rid of your account only to be left without information that is important to you. Basically you need to:
- consider the reasons why you want to leave;; Social media relies a lot on a borderline addictive feedback loop, especially when you’re using it to fill up your time. You are also occasionally going to get asked “why don’t you have a FB/why did you delete your FB/why can’t I add you” and it’s good to have a response handy other than a very impassioned shrug. This will help get you through the weird week or so where you kinda feel like there’s something you should be doing. Some sample reasons:
–“It feels like a waste of time.”
–“It was annoying.”
–or my favorite reason, suggested by facebook itself in the deactivation screen, “I don’t know how to use facebook.”
- get contact info for everyone you want to keep in touch with;; Most of the people who you’ll want to talk to post-facebook are already people you talk to outside of it anyway, but it’s still a good idea to consider. Make sure you have non-facebook contact info (like a phone number or email address) for miscellaneous relatives, people you currently need to talk to for school/work purposes, anyone you reasonably could see yourself romancing in the future, and any other useful contacts. A lot of people actually list this information on facebook so you can just gleam it from their profiles and then six months later text them without telling them how you got their number, if that’s something you’re interested in.
I made the mistake of skipping this step, and I don’t have an email address for a particular favorite past band director, so if I ever want to get in touch with him about music stuff, I’ll have to go through another director. A small (but unnecessary) inconvenience, please learn from my mistakes.
- BACK UP ALL OF YOUR DAMN PICTURES;; Facebook has a function to help you back up your content, so make sure you have all of your photos in your own digital possession before hitting “nuke” on the whole operation. Also, if you’ve actually been using facebook as a diary this whole time, records of the angsty rants of your formative years might be something you want to keep. (But, as always, I’m on Team Private Journals.)
The actual deleting can come in two forms: deactivating and deleting.
Deactivating is an option if you’re not positive that you want to delete your account, because you have the option of coming back like a puppy with your tail between your legs. You become inaccessible to your “friends,” your timeline disappears, but your information stays on the site’s servers.
Deleting, meanwhile, boasts that your information will be removed from the servers completely. (May or may not be true because how often does ‘deleted’ stuff resurface, but hey, it’s the best you can do.) The important thing to know about this avenue of escape is that, even after hitting ‘delete’ there is a 14-day period where interacting with facebook will stop your account from being deleted. That’s right folks, a whole FORTNIGHT, even if you just sign on accidentally by using a website with comments through facebook. Delete that shit off your phone, clear your cookies, and cross your fingers, because starting all over is a d r a g.
I’m not going to walk you through a tutorial of the actual mechanics of deleting your account; if “I don’t know how to use facebook” is your reason for logging off, then maybe you should look into another website that you probably don’t know how to use, Google. But if you need a tutorial, try here, here, or you know, just look through the gear menu and figure it out.
Deleting facebook will change your life, but not in the ways that you expect.
Fun fact: the vast, vast majority of your facebook friends, and probably a lot of your real friends, will not even notice unless you tell them.
You can, however, expect a shift in the dynamics of your social life. A facebook-less girl is kryptonite for some romantic interests, because they only know how to flirt via facebook message. You will miss out a lot of incredibly boring information and a few critical pieces of news. (Example: an out of town friend was hospitalized briefly and it was posted to facebook, but nobody told me.) Your social circle will immediately feel smaller, but hopefully also more manageable. And possibly the best result: it will reduce the level of FOMO and “my life sucks compared to [Awesome-Seeming Person]” sadness.
Although deleting facebook does not necessarily remove you from the social-media map, it does remove you from the most simultaneously boring and toxic corner of that map, and if that’s something you just don’t want in your life, I’d encourage you to give it a shot. (Remember: you can deactivate for a time period if you’re not 100% positive.)
enjoy your freedom,